Warlords to decide outcome of Afghan election

Despite best efforts of Western donors, Afghanistan’s next leader could be chosen by a small circle of warlords, strongmen and the ethnic voting blocs they control.

Afghan presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, speaks to supporters during an election campaign in Kandahar

As Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a veteran of the jihad against Soviet occupation and a hardline Islamist once close to al-Qaeda, steps to the microphone through a phalanx of armed guard the crowd of 5000 takes up a familiar cry.

One man raises his fist and shouts: “Death to America, death to England.”

Hundreds of hands are thrust into the air as the response echoes around the rally in Parwan province, all captured on video. “Death, death, death,” they shout.

Sayyaf is the man who invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan and was mentor to the mastermind who planned 9/11.

Yet 12 years after international troops forced the Taliban from Kabul and after billions of dollars has been delivered in aid, he is a contender for president and one of a handful of warlords well-placed to act as kingmakers.


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